Christian Lundgaard

The second and final day of Content Days for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES wrapped up Wednesday at the Palm Springs Convention Center in California.

During Content Days, drivers pose for photographs and videos for INDYCAR and sponsors, perform promotional duties for tracks and sponsors, and are interviewed by NBC, the INDYCAR Radio Network and other media as the buildup toward the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 5 shifts into top gear.

Drivers and teams will head down the road from the Palm Springs Convention Center to the nearby The Thermal Club on Thursday and Friday for the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES open test of the 2023 season.

Notable quotes and other random nuggets from Day 2:

Lundgaard’s Hairy Gamble

Christian Lundgaard showed off a new look with a mustache that, at first glance, might have been inspired by meeting the cast of “Top Gun: Maverick” at an event a few weeks ago in Los Angeles. However, the fashionable trend came under different circumstances.

“It was actually put in place way earlier than that (event),” Lundgaard said. “It's a deal I have with my best friend. He came over to the States in December, and we made this deal that we can't shave our moustache until I won a race in INDYCAR. Yeah, so it can be a few years, or it can be in about a month.”

Riding the Hy(-Vee) Life

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader at Iowa Speedway on July 22-23 also will provide cause for celebration for Lundgaard.

The Dane will not only drive the Hy-Vee-sponsored No. 45 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at the company’s signature playground, but he also will be able to celebrate his 22nd birthday that Sunday listening to global pop superstar Ed Sheeran perform at the track while also being “definitely” prepared to see life-sized cardboard cutouts of himself all over Hy-Vee supermarkets.

Ilott Not Ready for Full House

Callum Ilott gets on well with many drivers, including incoming rookie Marcus Armstrong.

The two lived together in Italy at one point during their respective junior formula careers in Europe.

“I know the ins and outs of that man a little bit too well really, unfortunately,” said Ilott, driver of the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet. “But no, he's a lovely dude. He's not doing the ovals, so I'm sure there's another step for him to learn when he comes and does that, if he continues. He may not like it. He may be afraid of all of us now.”

Additionally, Devlin DeFrancesco lives in Miami, but he’s made himself comfortable in Ilott’s home.

“He dropped a couple of things off, including his car, but that's about it,” Ilott said. “I mean, he did stay in my place for four or five days in December. I guess that denotes living with me. He can take it if he wants. I know I'm cool, but I'm not that cool.”

Maybe Ilott doesn’t realize how much he’s loved…

“Yeah, I don't want to have like an orphanage of European expats,” Ilott said.

Power Wants Indy 500 Pole for Legacy

Will Power, the reigning and two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, secured the all-time career pole record last year, but there is still one top qualifying spot he hasn’t achieved.

Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, expressed his desire to add an Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole to his sterling resume, which includes winning the event in 2018. Power has four front-row starts in 15 appearances in the “500.”

“Yeah, that's one that's eluded me for a long time, and I've had times that I've had the car to do it and then just sort of overshot or undershot in some way of trimming or it just hasn't worked out or the wind,” Power said.

“It's a tough one because it's often out of your hands. It really depends on the car you have that year, the time you go, the temperature -- it's all got to work. Either it'll all fall in place, and it'll be there, or… yeah.”

Castroneves Reacts to Brady Retirement

When Helio Castroneves was 46 years old, he was crossing the Yard of Bricks to win his fourth Indianapolis 500 in May 2021. Now, at 47 and going on 48, he spent Wednesday’s session with the media in shock over the retirement of seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who broke the news via social media early in the morning.

“I can't believe it, man,” Castroneves said.

But don’t expect a similar farewell any time soon from Castroneves, who is fresh off a victory – along with Meyer Shank Racing teammate Simon Pagenaud – in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“Look, I just won Daytona 24-hour,” he said. “Do you think I'm thinking retiring right now? There isn't a thought of that. It has to feel natural. I can't force myself. I can't put a number or date that I can say this is it.

“As of right now, I am enjoying very much what I'm doing. I'm about to start a great season with INDYCAR, and my mind is only thinking about that. I'm just going to continue working and get that result that I really want, that I know I'm capable and I know what the team is capable. Whatever happens in the future remains to be seen.”

Impatience Brings New Pilot to Friendly Skies

Romain Grosjean was tired of waiting in airports, so opted to get his pilot’s license.

The Swiss-born Frenchman and driver of the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda confessed the desire to learn to fly as something he “wanted to do for a long time.”

He also even fly over the street circuit in St. Petersburg, which included landing on the start-finish line of the course, located on a runway at the Albert Whitted Airport.

New World for Canapino

Agustín Canapino previously left his home country of Argentina, but it was only for a few days.

The rapid move to come to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and occupy the newly launched second seat for Juncos Hollinger Racing forced him to move from Argentina for the first time in his life. That said, the incoming rookie is still buoyant from a thrilling World Cup final, which saw icon Lionel Messi help push Argentina to beat France for the title.

“Oh, my God, we are very proud,” Canapino said. “We are very proud, especially for Messi. He's like a god in our country, and he is a god. But we are very proud, very proud of the soccer in our country is very, very important sport, very popular.”

As part of his adjustment to racing and living in America, Canapino said he started learning English three months ago.

Kanaan Getting Acclimated

Tony Kanaan “won’t be sad” if this year’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge will be his last, but he’s not giving up great opportunities for the ultimate swan song, either.

Kanaan, winner of the 2013 Indy 500, joined Arrow McLaren Racing in a one-off shot to return to Victory Lane this May. And he’s making the most of it by keeping a presence around the team’s race shop in Indianapolis.

I've actually been to the shop quite a bit,” said Kanaan, the 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion. “There's obviously a lot of familiar faces there. When you're in the series for 26 years you've worked with everybody… people shuffle around.

“I was there at least, I would say, the past two months once a week, bothering people, talking about my seat fit, which they're like, ‘Dude, you're only here in May to drive, so what do you want?

“We had a bunch of engineering meetings trying to help with all of my experience, as well. Once (Alexander) Rossi came in, and he brings something. I came in, and I bring something. It's always like we're trying to make this team what Zak (Brown) asked me to do when he hired me.”

And what was that?

To win the 500.”

Frustration Pushing Newgarden to New Level

Josef Newgarden is a two-time champion in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. However, he has finished as a runner-up in the title race each of the past three seasons, including last year when he won a career-high and season-best five races.

“It gnaws at me, for sure,” said Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet. “It's annoying; there's no doubt. How could you not be frustrated by it, right? I think it's normal, very frustrating.

“I try and take the frustration and just put it into motivation. How are we going to build a bigger gap where that's not even possible? I don't even want to be messing with it at the end of the year. In an ideal world, if we get to the end of a season where we don't have to mess with the gap, if we can just get that out of the way, that would be ideal. That's where my mindset is at, how do we get to that place where it's not even on the table, it's just done.

“I think I'm not arrogant enough to believe that that's easy. It seems near impossible these days to do that. I think that's valid. It's very difficult to do that. I understand that. But I still want to find a way where we can get to a place where we don't have to mess with it.”

Facts support Newgarden’s belief that clinching the Astor Challenge Cup early is a tall task. The INDYCAR SERIES championship has come down to the final race of the season every year since 2006.

McLaughlin Finds New Appreciation for Media

Scott McLaughlin returned home to his native New Zealand over the offseason, where he spent two weeks before going to Australia for an additional six weeks.

A three-time Australian Supercars champion, McLaughlin broke through last year in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with three wins and seven podium finishes en route to placing fourth in the championship standings. While he may have felt like a rock star with so much support in returning to Oz, he also was humbled when he stepped into the commentator’s booth to call some races.

“That was fun,” said McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet. “Certainly have a new appreciation for what the guys in the com box do. It's a tough old slog trying to read races, get the most out of interviews. You guys do a pretty good job with us.

“I don't know how you ask questions when we're angry. I absolutely (crapped) myself when I had to ask a couple questions to a few drivers when they had a bad run. It gave me a new focus. OK, I probably should be a little bit nicer to you all (smiling). Yeah, it was good.”